Living in the world we do it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the misery and hardships around us. It is very easy to become a victim of misery and get comfortable in that particular little box.

However, if we look around I am betting there is not one of us that cannot find plenty of things in our lives that are special, that are blessings and that can sustain us and even give us great joy on a daily basis.

I have written quite often about the heartache that sickness brings into the lives of my parents but I tend to forget that yes God brings hardship but He brings just as much joy, happiness and hope.  How come it is the hardships and heartaches I tend to dwell on. How come my prayers are filled with the details of the dark moments of life and just a small blip of the joy He brings to me? 

I guess it probably has to do with me not being strong enough alone to handle the heartaches and asking with a genuine need to help me to get through the tough stuff. However, God has brought so many blessings into my life that I need to take a moment and dwell there, in thanksgiving.

Two of my boys surprised me when I went to NE and showed up for a visit too. I cannot tell you the joy and singing my heart did when I pull into the motel and I am greeted by Lucas and Kelsey waving and grinning, knowing they succeeded in totally surprising their Mother! I will remember this visit forever because God made it special for me. I cannot tell you of the joy that I got when my nephew Ryan called to make sure I was still in NE and I was the first stop he made when He got to town. Having Ryan, Kelsey and Lucas to myself for an hour when we all got to Imperial was pure joy and happiness was written all over my heart. I am not sure the people in the adjoining rooms shared my enthusiasm for the impromptu late night family gathering at the motel, but it warmed this Mom’s heart.  Sharing a supper meal for the first time in years with my sister, Logan, Gordon, Lucas and Kelsey all together was amazing (the food was pretty good too) Seeing Logan wearing a UW hat instead of his usual Nebraska Cornhuskers hat was priceless!

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If I would just take a minute to reflect on the good as well as the bad I would see that God has given me new people in my life that have brought meaning and depth, He has opened new doors, provided necessary supplies at work (in a bigger way than you can imagine). It is easier to find peace in the imperfections of my life when I also find thanksgiving for the abundance of joy He provides at the same time.

 

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We all have blessings if we choose to see them!

Is there anything good in Alzheimers?

Another visit to Imperial is for all intents and purposes over, except the drive home. There were no surprises, I found Dad as I expected to, and I found Mom as I expected to. In fact, from all appearances it seemed that they had adjusted as much as possible to life with Alzheimer’s.
I am sitting here in my motel room thinking about 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Proverbs 3:5 and wondering why God brought me to those particular versus tonight and what in the world they have to do with what is going on.
I am coming to the realization that maybe I am looking at this situation in the wrong way, or more to the point, maybe there is a less painful way to look at this situation.
God promises times of testing and tribulation and that despite what it feels like, we aren’t the only ones who have gone through whatever it is we are facing. He also assures me that we won’t be tested above what we are able to handle and that He will always offer us a way out and He will never leave us.
Well……………..those words don’t seem to fit with what I am feeling tonight and if God always offers a way out why don’t I see it?
This brings me to my original point, looking at this in a different light. To see the options when God offers us them, we have to want to see them. What if the only option I see isn’t the option I want? Does that option then become a non-option? I want what I want, what I want, unfortunately that option does not seem to be available.
I think I need to look at this in a completely different light. God tells me He won’t ever desert me and to trust Him with my whole heart and don’t lean on my own understanding.
The thing is, that is His message to my Alzheimer ridden father also.
So Dad, let’s trust God on this one.
On the outside it may appear that you are suffering, but you are clean, you are safe and you have enough women nursing assistants caring for you to make any man jealous. I doubt you are aware of the full extent of your disease, in fact most of the time you seem quite content. It would seem that most of the suffering at this point of your disease, falls to those of us who love you and we can make a conscious choice to simply “trust God and lean not on our own understanding”.
Although I do not understand, I choose to trust, it hurts less that way. Funny, I think that may be how it is supposed to work.
Dottie
……………………and so I rideImage

Things are no longer as they once were

I love to go to Nebraska, I grew up there and it will always be home. It will always be the quiet, small town where you can leave your doors and cars unlocked. It will always be the small town where you can take long walks after dark and not be afraid. It will always be the small town where dining in the local restaurant means a night of conversations with people you have known many years.

As much as things stay the same however, time does march on and mostly, people change. Faces are more weathered and wrinkled, hair is greyer, and waists are thicker. Old buildings are gone and new ones take their place. Those are the things you expect and accept as a normal part of life. Those are the easy things.

However as I am getting ready to venture back to my hometown this morning I know that there are things that will greet me that will bring great pain. Things that will greet me that make me cry for the past that no matter what it looks like, no longer exists.

When Alzheimer’s enters a family lives are altered forever. Unlike the old buildings in town that were torn down and replaced with new, Alzheimer’s has to run its destructive course, there is no amount of rebuilding and remodeling that can be done. The life slowly leaves the building and finally it crumbles taking all that the building once was with it.

However I won’t let that ugly disease keep me from the man who might not remember it, but will always be my Dad. His strength and wisdom might not be visible anywhere but in memory anymore, but He is still Dad. I will go to Nebraska, I will find delight in the things I remember that still are and I will love as much as always, the things that are no longer as they once were.

Dottie

…………….and so I ride

Sometimes life is just…………………..random!

My random thoughts for the day! I love to read so I pick bits and pieces up here and there and this is just some randomness that caught my attention. Some days are like that, random!

For those of you who are a “couple”

C- Closeness (Genesis 2:24)

O- Openness (Colossians 3:19)

U- Understanding (1 Peter 3:7)

P- Peacemaking (Matthew 19:5)

L- Loyalty (Malachi 2:14)

E- Esteem (1 peter 3:7)

Dr Emerson Eggerichs

 

“We cannot blame God for the bad things we let into our lives”

 

“Live your dreams not your fears”

 

“Learning to rely on God’s power is the only sure way to lasting change”

 

“Stop obsessing about what’s wrong with you and start building on what’s right”

 

“The world we see around us is the world we are creating”

 

From Dr’s Cloud and Townsend………………..1. When I fail, I will learn from it and move on. 2. Blame will not get me where I want to go, Ownership will get me there. 3. When I take  responsibility for my problems, I am in charge.

 

When you are backed into a corner and think you have no choice…………….remember, YOU DO!

 

“Failure is the beginning of education”

Ten names of God

Jehovah Rapha- The God Who Heals

El Roiy- The God Who Sees Me

Jehovah Jirah- The Lord Who Provides

El Shadai- The Sufficient One

Jehovah Nissi- The Lord Of Protection

Jehovah Oz- The Lord Of My Strength

Adonai- The Sovereign Lord God

Jehovah Shammah- The Lord Is There

Jehovah Shalom- Our Perfect Peace

Jehovah Raah- The Lord My Shepard

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In closing I say that some days are like this, just random. However one thing does not change and one thing I will never forget. I will BELIEVE THE TRUTH. “Flowers and grass fade away but what our God has said will never change. Isaiah 40:8

Dottie

…………..and so I ride

Take responsibility for your life!

There are those who take responsibility for their lives and their decisions and there are those who do not. I am looking inside this morning and trying to decide which I am. However even more than that I want to come to the decision that no matter what I find, it is in my power to change it.

Galatians 6:5 says that we each have to bear our own load and Proverbs 28:13 says that if we conceal our transgressions we won’t prosper.

It seems we need to buck up and admit where we have been wrong, where we have been straddling the fence and where we have been blaming others and take ownership of our lives.

The way we duck, dodge and weave around them you would think that responsibilities are a rare thing but they aren’t, responsibilities are something we all have, and that we have daily. It would seem as with anything we get a lot of practice doing we would be very good at living up to our responsibilities, unfortunately, that isn’t always true. OUCH.

I think I will try to look at responsibility in a positive light instead of as something to avoid. Responsibility can mean liberty, freedom and power. It can mean self-respect and satisfaction. I love what George O’Neil says, “When we have begun to take charge of our lives, to own ourselves, there is no longer any need to ask permission of someone.”

Instead of standing in our own way we are willing to forge ahead with a new boldness and the best part, when we make mistakes, we have the courage to admit it with dignity and grace and try again.

I don’t want to look back over my life and be ashamed by what I see.

I guess the bottom line is I am a follower of Jesus Christ and that sets me apart. I have a higher calling and that is enough to give me pause and consider my conduct at each turn.

It might be much easier to point the finger of blame at someone else when things do not go well, but it certainly doesn’t not seem profitable.

I think today is the day I take responsibility for my life!

Dottie

…………and so I ride

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Cleaning Up

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was visiting my Grandparents and we needed to make a quick trip to the store for some bread. It would take us ten minutes tops to be there and back home, but my Grandma had to change her dress, change her shoes and put lipstick on. Heaven forbid if someone saw us in our everyday work clothes and not all spiffed up. In other words, heaven forbid if someone saw us for who we really were instead of who we wanted them to think we were.

I think that is hard for a lot of people. I think it applies to a lot of people where Jesus is concerned also. I have heard friends say to me that they knew they were going to hell so why pretend differently, a lot of people think they have to clean up their act before they can come to Jesus.

That’s a hard one for me to address with people, my first reaction tends to be “are you nuts, why do you think He died for you? Don’t you realize He died long before you walked this earth?” But the little filter widget on my shoulder is whispering “idle down there hot rod, simply explain it to them”

Jesus doesn’t say go get your good clothes on then we will talk. He says, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

We don’t hear, clean the house, do the dishes and make sure you clean out all the closets and sweep the corners, and for goodness sake don’t sweep the dirt under the rug.  God says He shows His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8

We don’t hear “Let’s hang out after the spring cleaning is done”, we hear that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. Luke 19:10

I love that He meets us where we are, no matter the condition we are in. It is an invitation to all that need Him, it is a welcome home without conditions. However, we must always remember that God is, Lord of Heaven and Earth, He is the Holy of Holies and the Great “I am”, and as such, reverence and respect is always expected.

However, once home He begins to refresh and change us as we submit in obedience and love. He changes us so that we can show others that “come on in and make yourself at home, means just that”. Don’t be afraid of tracking up the floor, just come in, as the saying goes, He leaves the light on

Dottie.

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Oh the Idols we serve!

In struggling with an issue that is constant in my life I found true wisdom this morning in a statement I read by Jessica Howell. She said, “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”  Now this can refer to a lot of things in our lives but for me, this morning it refers to a specific topic. I know this topic is something I am dealing with but it is certainly not specific to me.

You should see me this morning, I am sitting here with (and I am not kidding), 8 diet and exercise books on my lap trying to get some kind of motivation and control over this irrational control that food has over me and the never ending quest to find the right diet and exercise plan. You would think that with two magazines in my hands sporting gorgeous women in tiny shorts and more diet and exercise hints than humanly possible to read and six books explaining how to find God’s path, how to become myself, how to become mean and lean in 90 days, how to find the spark to lose weight and transform my life and how to become successful by thinking differently, well you would think I would be rich, thin and wise beyond words!

I think of the way the world in general looks at food. Virtually every single thing we celebrate we do it with food. No birthday goes by without birthday cake, holidays are marked by the feasts we prepare to celebrate them, and football would not be the game it is without tailgate parties. If we celebrate we do it with food, if we grieve we do it with food, heck, we can’t even go to the movies without the biggest, butteriest tub of popcorn money can buy.

Is it any wonder we glamorize food and our society is plagued by obesity and expanding waistlines when all we see is the glorification of that which has the potential to kill us?

Now to the personal part of this rant, I lost a great deal of weight a few years ago and was successful maintaining that loss by being conscientious of what I put in my mouth and taking the time and effort to get some exercise. It was good for my mind, good for my soul and good for my relationship with God. It was a good balance.

But then I lost focus of where true happiness comes from and slowly my health declined, my weight started inching back up and my relationship with Jesus was becoming more and more strained.

I kept having this vision of meeting Jesus with my mouth full of potato chips or Twinkies and it bothered me more than a little.

So I guess my point is taking our eyes and focus off Jesus and onto worldly matters is detrimental in ways that we might not think about. I know that the secret to weight loss and health won’t be found in any self-help books, I won’t find those answers there anymore than I will find the path to eternal life in any book except the Bible.

The secret to any trouble we are having lies in one place only, the truth of God’s word, the light of God’s love and the promise of God’s grace.

We really do make life more difficult for ourselves don’t we!

Dottie

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What our decisions reveal

The world we live in will demand that we make tough decisions now and again. It’s not a possibility, it’s a certainty. The hard part is making sure that we make those decisions based on God’s will. Not decisions that will make us feel good, not necessarily the easiest or most popular decisions but the decision that God has in mind for us There are three things, (actually a lot more but we will stick with three this morning) of which we can be certain, God will love you, God will seek you and God will take care of you.

I love the verse of the song “The Love of God” that explains in a majestic way, the extensiveness of God’s love for us.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole, through stretched from sky to sky.”

So if we start from right there, when we face tough decisions we will be in a good place to receive His answers.

The next step would be to remember that He has plans for us and the details are already worked out. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Pray that you see the decision to be made clearly and completely and in God’s light, making sure your priorities are in the correct order. Look deep inside your heart to make sure you are ready to comply with whatever God tells you. Waiting for an answer takes patience because answers are often not immediate and you may have to ask again for His will and not yours to be done.

I am a researcher, we all know that, I always look for more information, I investigate what I can, and evaluate endlessly. Look for facts and look at what the Bible has to say on the subject. Talk to those you know who are grounded in God and will give an unbiased opinion based on the word of God and not popular opinion and not just what you want to hear.

Remember that God is still in control no matter how ambiguous the decision. I guess the bottom line for me is to remember what Romans 12:2 says: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

God knows the difficulties we face distinguishing what we need to do. He knows our motives and the condition of our hearts.

What we should remember is that those motives and our heart condition are most assuredly revealed in the choices we make.

Dottie

……………..and so I rideImage

One Sided Relationship?

I know that the devil is prowling around out there and he can and will strike without warning. I’m a christian so I’m protected and I can sit back and enjoy life now because God has my back. Right? Then how come I keep having troubles and frustrations?

If I am thinking that way then it seems like I am having a one sided relationship with God and a relationship where I am expecting Him to do all the work while I reap all the benefits. I don’t think that is what God intended our life with Him to be like.

So I go over it in my mind again.

Point one is……

It is a certainty that Satan will sneak in and gain a foothold when he can and before I know it I am fighting old, familiar battles yet again. I am thinking to myself why does this keep happening?

The question is.

Why isn’t God doing His part?

Maybe the question should be…….

“how’s your heart Dottie? Have you really made God the final authority in your life, the ONLY authority in your life?

Are you living by faith or living by Dottie’s rules? Are you really responding to the love being cast upon you in the appropriate manner?

A life devoted to Christ cannot be a one sided affair, I have responsibilities in this relationship also. Maybe it’s time put a little more effort into my side of this relationship!

Dottie

……….and so I rideImage

The “Promise” A personal story.

This story is about a promise I made to myself some years ago, it is about an ending, a beginning and the journey through the middle that brought me to my destination.

We all have defining times in our lives and sometimes those occasions shape the rest of our lives. A season of change started for me when I decided to end a marriage of 32 years for very good reasons but no matter the reasons, divorce is divorce and is not easy any way you look at it.

I will never forget the day I made my “promise”; it is etched in my mind forever. My marriage of 32 years was over and it was time to forge ahead into the future, alone. Scary stuff.

I had married before I was out of high school so in effect I went from my Father’s house to my husband’s house. I had never been alone but I was now- and it was scary. I have to admit that I was not thinking of the wonderful changes and opportunities that God was going to make in my life,  or the fact that He was right there beside me, my thoughts were more along the line of, oh my gosh, what is going to happen to me now.

It was a future that as of that moment was a blank slate. I could have looked at it as a black hole and I could have stayed in the victim role indefinitely but I chose to see it as a future that I was finally free to make my own. I had a plan but I wasn’t sure how to implement it. I wasn’t thinking to clearly yet.

I was leaving the past that wasn’t all bad in some aspects, I got my boys out of the deal and they sustained me, and to this day have brought me endless delight and pride, but I was gaining a solitary future that in all honesty terrified and excited me all at the same time. I read all I could about divorce and how to cope and even how to make it a positive experience. The thing is however, the ingredient that was lacking was the knowledge of where the provision for the power to accomplish that would come from. Oh I knew God was there but in the pain and chaos of a divorce, He sometimes seems distant.

Divorce was a scary and uncomfortable place to be, one day you are fine and feeling like you are on the right track, the next day the train derails. However I knew I didn’t want to miss what lay in store as I moved into my future. I had to find a way to take the choice that I made in deciding to divorce, and move it out of the spotlight, I had to try to gain some perspective. I prayed and prayed for something to give me a purpose and a goal to work towards as I walked through this difficult time and I prayed for God to make Himself present, you know the neon billboard thing again. .

So despite the uncertainty, apprehension and stress that filled my days, God was helping me to find a goal that would make me feel worthwhile, to make my future feel more secure and at the same time, fill my days with a purpose to go on. I am not saying I needed more than God, what I am saying is that I needed help in finding that out.

With God at my side I made a “promise” to myself and I asked God to help me achieve it. I vowed to do everything in my power to achieve my “promise” and when my power ran low, I knew God would be right there to recharge me.

It took me about another year and a half to start working on my “promise”, because I would be lying if I said that the time around a divorce is an easy time, no matter who wants the divorce it is a horrendous experience. It was horrible some days, barely manageable some days and some days it was all I could do to get out of bed and keep going. But God uses the most mundane things to give us the get up and go we need to …….well…….get up and go.

Taking responsibility for myself was a whole new experience for me but in tiny measures  and one step at a time, I found my footing, my “promise” and the ever growing knowledge that God was beside me.  He gave me the incentive to do what I had promised. Suddenly (or not) as the tiny measures accumulated, I realized the value of self-worth and just who this daughter of the King was, I was awakening to the possibilities that lay ahead for me.

It was amazing actually, striving to keep a promise that I had made to myself, that seems such an ordinary promise, millions of people do it, but for me, it was a step into yet another unknown direction and a journey I had to take one step at a time because it was that scary.  More steps than I care to admit were in the backward direction. However, soon my “promise” became more than just a “promise” it became a matter of integrity, a measure of trust and reliability, a bull headed determination, a heartfelt feeling of respect for what I was doing and more than a little gratitude for the fact that God was on this mission with me and showing me how to accomplish it.  This in turn, added to my feelings of self-worth and my love and respect for my Father God grew. It was all part of the growing into the person God knew I could be. So I grabbed ahold of God’s hand and I marched on to fulfill my “promise”.

It was around that time that I met my husband Earl, I am positive that God brought him into my life for many reasons but a big reason I believe had to do with the promise I made to myself. He gave me the love, support and motivation that I needed to stay the course I had set for myself. If I do say so, he and God made a pretty dynamic team.

Never, ever get comfortable and think things are going to go smooth and you have clear sailing the rest of the way. My Dad was diagnosed shortly after that with Alzheimer’s and so began another scary, heartbreaking and soul wrenching experience I have ever endured.

Yet somehow the “promise” had taken on new meaning and now it wasn’t just a “promise” to myself, it was something I had to do , because life is too short to let dreams die.

Some things we have to let go and watch them blossom and grow, some things we have to let go and watch them take up residence with God and some things shouldn’t be left to wither and die. So it was with my “promise” So I took the cowboy spirit my Dad instilled in me, I took the support of my husband and I took the power of God, and I marched myself back to the road that led to my “promise”

As always there are lessons, of course there are, did you think there wouldn’t be?

I learned a few things on the way to fulfilling my “promise”,

  •  I had to do the work to see the results. And by work I mean physically, mentally and on my knees.  Just a note, I have gotten up at 3 am every morning to achieve this “promise”. Being alone wasn’t easy , watching my Dad wither away wasn’t easy and there were many things that threatened to distract me and threatened to derail my plans. Trying to work a “promise” into the equation of loneliness, fear, no money, frustration and stress felt downright crazy at times and certainly not something I could embark on alone. Many times the inclination was to quit and take the easy way out. It seemed easier at times to just stop struggling, but God kept reminding me of my “promise “and He kept gently nudging me forward.
  • When you see results, it makes you stronger. Success begets success, truly it does. As the tiny successes rolled in, my confidence grew and my determination found wings. God has a funny way of taking the tiniest of motivations and turning them into the courage to forge ahead.
  • Everyone has the right to their own destiny (the one God gives to each and every one of us). You hear something often enough and you start to believe it (both good and bad). Once the fog cleared however, God wouldn’t let me dwell there,  it became apparent that God deemed me worthy of having my own hopes, and dreams and the biggest surprise; He knew I had it in me (as long as He was in the lead) to meet the challenge.
  • The biggest lie is the lie of your imperfection. Don’t listen to anyone but the one who created you. None speak the truth quite like the One who loves unconditionally and creates you in His perfect image.
  • God never abandons us. Walk on, even if you don’t see, feel or hear Him. I guarantee He is still there. He might just be encouraging you to find the courage to plug into the power that exemplifies who He is, He might be giving you the courage to abandon your fear and He might be giving you the faith that it takes to put your hand in His and walk into the unknown. Take a chance, go with Him.
  • Your thoughts can become your reality, be careful where your thoughts rest. Keep your eyes upward, any other focus is a recipe for disaster.
  • Problems are not necessarily bad; it is an amazing feeling when you come through the other side of a problem you have solved with the guiding power of our Father. There is a powerful reminder in those situations that God doesn’t simply give power, God IS THE POWER, plug into His power.
  • To make my “promise” a reality I had to move in that direction consistently and purposely and with a steady determination.  I learned that to be a doer and not simply a talker was as simple as believing in my dream and believing that God was true to His word. Simple does not necessarily equal easy but in this case, it meant moving in a straightforward direction, it meant following where God was leading.

Sometimes I felt like the first pioneers must have felt, I faced criticism not because what I was doing was wrong but because what I was doing was “different at my age…………………excuse me!”  I dared to dream, and I found the courage by walking with God into what appeared a stark and barren future, but I walked smack dab into a place where He helped me nurture and grow that dream into reality. He walked me smack dab into a daughter of faith.

Today is a historic day in Dottie Rankin reality, today is the day my “promise “became a reality.

Today I graduated with my Masters Degree in Education.

Thank You God for making my dream come true.

Dottie

……………..and so I ride

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